Strictly Come Dancing stars are becoming increasingly frustrated at having to compete against professional West End star Layton Williams, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The trained dancer, 29, has received 39 out of 40 from the judges over the past two weeks and appears destined to win the series.
Yet he has been on stage since the age of twelve, when he played the title role in the West End musical Billy Elliot.
A Strictly insider reported anger and annoyance at Williams being so much more experienced than other contestants, saying he was at least on the same level as his professional partner Nikita Kuzmin, which “goes against the spirit of the show”.
The source said: “Of course there have always been dancers of different standards on Strictly, that’s part of the greatness of the show.”
Trouble: Strictly Come Dancing stars are becoming increasingly frustrated at having to compete against professional West End star Layton Williams, The Mail on Sunday can reveal
Talent: The trained dancer has received 39 out of 40 from the judges over the past two weeks and seems destined to win the series
“But that’s ridiculous, he’s just as good or even better than his professional partner.” The playing field here is so uneven that it’s impossible for any of the other participants to have a chance of winning, even if the spectators enjoy it , to follow a celebrity’s journey.
“Although there is no rule that professional dancers cannot participate, it is absolutely against the spirit of the show.”
“Look at someone like Krishnan Guru-Murthy, he’s built a huge following and is wonderful to watch, and Angela Rippon. But they’re blown out of the water every week by someone who’s a professional dancer.”
Williams’ appearance on Strictly comes five years after pop star Ashley Roberts was criticized by Strictly fans for being given an unfair advantage because she studied dance in her youth.
The Pussycat Dolls singer kept ending up in the bottom two places because the audience was against her. The backlash, which repeatedly reduced her to tears, was so intense that even presenter Tess Daly appealed to voters to “cut her a little slack”.
Williams, who will dance the tango to Olivia Rodrigo’s Vampire in tonight’s Halloween show, has wowed the judges since his arrival on Strictly. Last week he received a 10 from Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Anton Du Beke and a 9 from Craig Revel Horwood.
The 29-year-old’s musical theater credits include “Hairspray!”, “Rent,” “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” and the role of the young Michael Jackson in “Thriller Live!”. – although he lost that job when his voice broke.
He beat out more than 4,000 other candidates and secured his breakthrough role in “Billy Elliot,” where he danced complicated ballet routines every night.
Experience: A Strictly insider has told of the anger and annoyance that Williams is so much more experienced than other contestants
An insider said: “The starting position here is so unequal that it is impossible for any of the other participants to have a chance of winning.”
He previously trained at the Carol Godby Theater Workshop in his hometown of Bury and received a scholarship to the prestigious Italia Conti Academy of Theater Arts, which also trained former Strictly contestants Pixie Lott and Kelly Brook.
Of the criticism of his “unfair advantage,” Williams said: “I took it lightly, I understand what everyone is saying.” But if you could be a fly on the wall in that rehearsal room, it wouldn’t be easy for me .’
And in another interview he said his stage experience wasn’t directly relevant to Strictly, insisting: “I can’t emphasize enough how different.” [Strictly is]…it’s like a plumber trying to be an electrician!’
Other celebrities who have been criticized for their dancing experience include former Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh, model Abbey Clancy, actress Maisie Smith and singer Fleur East.
STRICTLY COME DANCING 2023: THE PROFILES OF THE PARTICIPANTS
Angela says: “I’ve been a fan of Strictly since day one and as a former Come Dancing presenter this will be quite an adventure for me.” “A scary proposition considering I’m about to turn 79. But I’m looking forward to the challenge and maybe learning to dance the Argentine tango.”
Amanda says: “I’m thrilled to have been asked to do Strictly. “I’m actually very shy and self-conscious, so this is a great opportunity for me to overcome those things.”
Layton says: “I’m absolutely delighted to confirm that I’ll be taking part in the UK’s most famous dance competition!” It’s time to take it to the ballroom. I really enjoy learning new skills from the best. Bring on the sequins… ALL the sequins!’
Krishnan says: “I’m surprised, delighted and a little confused to be joining Strictly on the ‘you only live once’ motto. “I can’t wait to start learning to dance, but I’m a little worried about my general weakness.”
Profession: Comedian and radio presenter
Eddie says: ‘WOW. Anyone who knows me understands that music and dance are so important and central to me. I am so incredibly proud and honored that Strictly and the BBC have asked me to join the 2023 team. I promise you, I will give it everything I can. This will be a VIBE.
Profession: TV host
Angela says: ‘I’m not particularly fit, I have no idea how my pelvic floor will react to this dancing. I’ve never done any other dances except drunken jiving at a wedding!’
Profession: Documentary filmmaker and former Love Island star
Zara says: “I’m so excited to be joining the world of Strictly! I grew up watching the film every year with my grandma and she was the biggest Strictly fan. We danced around the house and I have such fond memories of that time in my life.”
Profession: Actor and presenter
Adam says: “I can’t dance to save my life, but I can’t wait to learn with my pro and have a lot of fun. ‘Take me on the dance floor…I can’t wait!’
Profession: Coronation Street star
Ellie says: “It still doesn’t feel real that I’m going to do Strictly!!” It’s always been a dream of mine so I guess dreams really do come true!!!!”
Profession: EastEnders star and model
Bobby says: “I’m so excited to be part of the Strictly series that I can’t wait to start training like a professional dancer and add some moves to my repertoire.” “I’m looking forward to it in front of everyone to perform.”
Nigel says: “I’m amazed, excited and terrified to be doing Strictly.” As an armchair fan of the show, I watched in awe as people twisted and turned around the screen. And now it’s my turn…Gulp!’
Profession: Broadcaster and former tennis player
Annabel says: “I’ve always loved watching Strictly and I can’t believe I’m going to be part of this magical show – swapping tennis balls for glitter balls and looking forward to finding some joy along the way.”